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Voters Pass Budget Overwhelmingly

Heineman reelected vice president:

poll approval nearly 3-1

Even though this is the third year in which the New York State Property Tax Cap has been in place, the passing of the 2014-15 budget was no less laborious. That said, residents passed this year’s proposal of $109,407,138 was passed by the highest approval rating (74 percent) in roughly a dozen years with a margin of 1,505 in favor versus 537 against. The amount represents an increase of $1,804.772 or 1.68 percent from last year and the projected tax levy (with STAR) is 1.57 percent, which is the maximum allowable tax increase.

There were a number of budget drivers that were responsible for the budget up-tick. The district’s Teachers Retirement System (TRS) went up by $705.002 and the Employee Retirement System (ERS) increased by $95,771 for a grand total of $800,771. Half of the tax increase came from these two mandated increases, which resulted in a .74 percent impact on the budget and .82 percent growth of the tax levy. The total budget impact of 1.72 percent and tax impact of 1.91 percent included other benefits and debt service. The budget also factored in a net reduction of 10.5 full time equivalent (FTE) teaching staff driven by enrollment decreases and increasing class size to 26. Staff attrition takes in FLES (Foreign Language in Elementary School) program reduction, (which is now only being offered in grades four and five), .5 percent decrease in high school library staff plus administrative, nursing, teacher aide and clerical reductions. As a precaution, there will be two teaching positions, one general and one special education, held in reserve through 2015.

A lack of state aid also hampered the 2014-15 budget. Currently, Garden City roughly receives $1,239 in state aid per pupil, while comparable districts including Herricks (close to $2,500), Syosset (slightly more than $1,500) and Rockville Centre (just over $2,000) receive more.

Elsewhere, Board of Education Vice President Angela Heineman ran unopposed and was reelected by 1,505 votes. The office of president and vice president will be determined at the July reorganization meeting. As for upcoming meetings, the next board of education work session will be held on Tuesday, June 10 at 8:15 p.m. The location was changed to the administration building which is located on 56 Cathedral Ave.

The next regular meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 17 at 8:15 p.m. in the Garden City Middle School cafeteria.